It’s the phantom conception of a city that you connect with on L.A. artist and producer KANGA’s newest release, You and I Will Never Die, out now on Artoffact Records. The tones and variance equal the urban landscape, the eternal night, the color, and the darkness. Yet it’s the human element that supersedes the inanimate, and thus, the record is twofold, a maze of modernity.
“I think when I was younger, I really romanticized the foreboding, lonesome cityscape as a bewitching villain that needed to be defeated,” KANGA notes. “But really it was more like being in a toxic relationship with a narcissist. The highs are exciting, and the future could be so promising, but somehow, the loneliness overwhelms, and somehow, it’s always your fault. The city really lets you believe that you can change it, tame it, but we all know that never works.”
Inspired by the early electronic and industrial innovators, KANGA creates music that is completely welcomed by the heart, and yet still cold to the bone, the bleak cityscape that is grey and broken, decayed and gone. Much like her musical heroes, the artist resolves to make beauty through chaos: a pure industrial mindset.
“Nirvana was the first band I ever really got into, but I think it was probably Skinny Puppy that really blew my perceptual doors open,” the artist notes. “Ever since I heard “Worlock” there was no going back, but Too Dark Park and The Process are my album faves. From there, I really relished that era of alternative and electronic music, everything from NIN, to PJ Harvey, to the Chemical Brothers. But I also got a lot out of listening to dub artists like Ed Solo, Joker, and DJ Screw. I wanted to be all of these artists all at once in this one little body. I think I still do, probably.”
You and I Will Never Die fits that aspiration, a record with variance abound. Hard industrial, future pop, neo-electronica, moments of technical stillness, then club ecstasy, the album is many things and one thing as well: a singular vision, KANGA’s voice the equilibrium balancing each aesthetic.
“I was producing long before I began singing,” she says. “It actually wasn’t in my plans to sing, I just recorded a loop of myself singing quietly and sampled it into a track I was working on. It ended up getting mildly popular during the SoundCloud days, so I figured I would keep going in that direction.”
Luckily for us, You and I Will Never Die is the result of said direction: an album that touches many angles, many emotions, and visions. KANGA’s dark parlance resolves evenly with her excellent production. Every section pulsing, pushing the envelope of club dynamics. She knows how to program for optimal usage, both technical and organic.
“I treat my voice similarly to how I treat all the other instruments in the composition,” she explains. “I think that helps me look at the track more objectively, since I don’t have the luxury or the desire to have someone else giving me notes.”
For a record so indebted to one’s outside environment, it is KANGA’s internal environment that pushes the album beyond. As all artists have been forced to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, KANGA used the experience for reflection, for inward transformation. What does it mean to be an artist during these times?
“Well, the record was written before the pandemic,” KANGA notes. “It was just the mixing and the fixing that happened after the shutdown. Finishing this project in the context of a civilization on fire added an extra weight to it. The outside forces sort of pulled me out of that navel-gazing self-reflection that a lot of us can easily become infatuated with. I almost felt guilty for making something that seemed so selfish in this larger context. But once everything was wrapped up, I felt that beautiful sense of release, and suddenly I felt that the album (and maybe myself) could exist in tandem with this wild experience, instead of in opposition to it.”
Images courtesy of KANGA.